LOUDER LIVE - Biffy Clyro @ Cardiff Bay, 16/09/2021
There’s a sense of achievement with being at this gig. After 19 months, I’m finally getting to see not only one of my favourite bands, but one I’d booked to see in early 2020 before the pandemic made international headlines. Biffy Clyro were actually an act who I got into through their live footage – the zealous charisma of each of the three band members, fused with the stadium-ready nature of their compositions and the spectacle of seeing thousands of fans singing the closing lines to anthems like ‘Biblical’ made me want to experience the show for myself. Not to mention that their album ‘A Celebration of Endings’ is one of the most stunning pieces of music I heard last year. On the 16th of September 2021, my ambition was finally fulfilled, as thousands poured to Alexandra Head at Cardiff Bay to ‘Mon’ the ‘Biff!
Frank Carter &The Rattlesnakes open the night’s proceedings. This was my first experience hearing any material by the Hemel Hempstead post-hardcore act. Sadly, their set is plagued by technical difficulties, mainly owing to the fact that the lead guitarist, Dean Richardson, cannot get a note out of any of his guitars. For any rock band, this would be a disaster, but amazingly their frontman does not let this hamper their determination to put on a show. Throughout the performance, he’s seen crowd surfing, cracking jokes and at one point leading the audience in an acapella rendition of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ by the Animals.
At regular intervals, loud chants of ‘Deano’ take place in support of the disaffected guitarist, who even allows himself to be carried around the audience when he finally gets his instrument to elicit sound during an excellent cover of ‘Ace of Spades’ by Motorhead! Overall, despite a deeply flawed performance due to problems that are no fault of the band, I’ve never seen another band make a set that was - to quote Carter himself ‘on the verge of going catastrophically wrong’ so incredibly fun!
To give you an impression of how excited the crowd are to hear and see Biffy Clyro, on the opening songs – ‘North of No South’ and ‘That Golden Rule’ the crowd are audible above the band themselves. This is not due to more sound issues though – Simon Neil and Ben and James Johnston sound impeccable and are playing their hearts out as well! "Diolch yn fawr Cardiff!", our frontman bids the already ecstatic crowd – Welsh for 'Thank you very much!'.
The performances emanating from the band members were so stunning that I was barely paying attention to the visual aspect of the show – two aspects of that which did stand up though were Simon's brilliant frock which he sported during the opening songs, and the visuals which accompanied the music on moments such as the prog-inspired new song ‘Unknown Male 01’, from their upcoming album, ‘The Myth of Happily Ever After’. These players could carry a performance purely on the strength of the music itself if they wanted to. It’s testament to their commitment to their craft that they are determined to put on a show for their fans as well!
One of the great aspects of a Biffy show is the emotional roller-coaster that the variety of songs summon. There are forceful moments that elicit an animated response – ‘End Of’ and ‘Wolves of Winter’ come to mind – as well as beautifully moving anthems which see the band leading their onlookers in gigantic choruses, bursting with emotion – see both ‘Space’ and ‘Many of Horror’. It's testament to the skill of these musicians that they made me laugh one minute with their quips to the audience, dance in another with songs that seized every fibre controlling my actions, and weep the next with a piece so tender and heartfelt that you’re left no other choice!
Nowhere is this truer than on the encore. Opening with ‘Different People’, the crowd is immediately sent into a frenzy at one of the songs which best captures what the Scottish rockers do so very well – inspiring with a message, while also enthusing and energising with their music! Next up is ‘Cop Syrup’. I’ve already waxed lyrical in my review of their latest album about how stunning this metal meets neo-classical piece remains, yet hearing the song live was a particular treat, as the piece crescendos into a sensory cavalcade of noise and chaos. Finally, the set ends on a tender and moving moment with ‘Machines’, which resonates on an even more human level in a setting where thousands, united both by a love of music and common experience of the pandemic sing the refrains of “I'd forgotten how good it could be to feel alive” as one!
The set draws to a close with a promise from the band that they will be back and that familiar cry of ‘we are Biffy fucking Clyro!’ chanted by Neil and back at the band in unison. The lengthy walk back to the car through the striking night-time setting of Cardiff Bay provides the time and quietness to comprehend the show, and with that a desire to see Biffy Clyro for a second time. After all, my first experience seeing them was everything I hoped for!
“Take those pieces and build them skywards!”
Listen to Biffy Clyro's anthemic new song, 'Unknown Male 01', below:
The new album, 'The Myth of Happily Ever After', arrives on October 22nd 2021 - pre-order the record here: